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Hot Topics: Elections: Registering to Vote as a Student

A guide to voting and ballots in the 2019 and 2020 elections

Registration info

Registration Deadlines and Election Dates

  • Voter Registration Deadline: 21 days before Election Day
  • Election Day registration is also available
  • General Election Registration Deadline: October 13, 2020 by mail. Register on Election Day at a town office or city hall only.
  • General Election: November 3, 2020

Official Election Website 

Register at School or Home 

  • Students have a choice about where to register to vote
  • Students attending college may register at their campus address, or choose ot remain registered or register at their permanent or home address
  • You may only be registered to vote in one location 

What Type of ID Do I Need to Register? 

You only need your ID when registering to vote in person. Any of the following documentation is valid ID for purposes of registering:

  • Government-issued photo ID, including a U.S. passport, military ID, driver's license, or state ID;
  • Other government-issued ID without a photograph;
  • A utility bill, bank statement, a government paycheck, a paycheck or other government document with the voter's name and address; or
  • A verified identifier for new voters, including the Maine driver's license number, Maine ID number, or the last four digits of the voter's social security number.

What Type of ID Do I Need to Vote? 

You do not have to show an ID to get  ballot to vote.

Where Do I Vote? 

Make a plan. Look up your voting site and hours at:

https://www1.maine.gov/portal/government/edemocracy/voter_lookup.php

Registering to Vote as a Student

To be eligible to register to vote in Maine, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Be at least 17 years of age (you must be at least 18 years of age to vote. In primary elections you may vote if you are 17 but will be 18 by the general election);
  • Have established and maintained a voting residence in the municipality (i.e. city, town, plantation or unorganized township) where you seek to register. 

"Residence" is defined in the Maine election law (Title 21-A, section 112(1)) as "that place where the person has established a fixed and principal home to which the person, whenever temporarily absent, intends to return." Note that this definition has two components: 1) the establishment of a fixed and principal home in a given place, and 2) the intent to return there whenever temporarily absent. 

Under this definition, residence is something that you establish, not something you choose

You may offer any of the following factors, which the Registrar of Voters may consider in determining whether you have established a residence in a particular municipality on Maine:

  • a direct statement of your intention to reside at a particular place;
  • the location of any dwelling you currently occupy; 
  • the place where you have registered your motor vehicle (if you own the vehicle);
  • your current income tax return showing your residence address;
  • the residence address where your mail is received;
  • the residence address on your current hunting or fishing license;
  • the residence address shown on your drivers' license;
  • your eligibility for public benefits based on residency; or
  • any other objective facts that tend to indicate your place of residence.

Maine courts have held that voting residency as defined in Maine's election statutes is equivalent to the common law concept of domicile. Whereas "residence" typically refers to the location where you physically reside, domicile means something more. In order to establish domicile, you must intend to make a place your home, and not just physically live there.

Once you have established a fixed and principal home where you live, that home is assumed to be your domicile until you establish a new one. Changing your domicile usually requires action (physically moving to a new place) and intent (Intending for the new place to become your home). You may live in two different homes during different parts of the year, but as a matter of law you can only have one domicile and thus only one voting residence. Therefore, when you complete a voter registration application, you must provide an address where you were previously registered to vote (either within or outside of Maine), unless you are registering to vote for the first time. 

If you are a student, you have the right to register in the municipality in Maine where you attend school, provided you have established a voting residency there as defined in Maine's election laws and explained above. You can establish a voting residence at your Maine school address if you have a present intention to remain at that address for the time being, whether that residence is a dorm, apartment, house, or even a hotel. Maine law expressly provides that you will not gain or lose residency solely because of your presence in or absence from the state while attending school , and this provision may not be interpreted "to prevent a student at any institution of learning from qualifying as a voter" in the town "where the student resides while attending" that school. In other words, as a student, you must meet the same residency requirements as all other potential voters. You must first determine where you have established residency and then register to vote there. If you pay out-of-state tuition as a student at a Maine college or university, that does not preclude you from establishing residency in Maine for voting purposes. If you have established residency in another municipality or state, you may vote by absentee ballot in that state. 

If you lived in Maine prior to attending school and you wish to establish or keep your voting residency in Maine at that location (e.g., at your parents' home address) you may do so as long as you have not already registered to vote in another state. Maine students may keep their voting residency even if they move out of out of the county, state, or country to attend school. The only way you will lose this residency is if you "abandon" it by asserting residency in a new state. If you have registered to vote in another state, you will have to re-qualify as a Maine resident by providing proof of residency before you can register.  

 

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